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The "Mad Men" Working Conditions on the Construction Site

Posted by Gail Zuagar, Outreach Associate | Posted on: June 20, 2014 at 09:19 am

I decided in high school that I wanted to be a journalist. I often wrote in a journal and followed my hometown’s newscasters closely. I read magazines, picturing my name in the bylines. When I graduated high school, I, like most people, went to college to study my craft.

I went to classes packed with men and women. My professors were not only of the male persuasion — many women at the top of the journalism game taught me. When it was time to do an internship, I learned from women (and men) who were icons — whose names were known all over the city for their work in television and radio. I learned from women (and men) who worked hard, but had the support of their colleagues along the way, and who wanted to share that support with me.

When it was time to graduate and find a job, I enlisted the help of my professors, both male and female. But that first job out of school was a direct result of a reference from a male professor — one who believed in me enough to give me the opportunity to work on our little campus news program. He worked late every day to teach those who wanted to learn, and help those who were struggling. He’s no longer with us, but he truly knew what it meant to train his students. The support of that professor, and all the other teachers, mentors, and supervisors still means a lot to me. And I love the work I do.

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New Executive Order to Protect LGBT in the Workplace — Next Up: ENDA

Posted by Lauren Khouri, Fellow | Posted on: June 19, 2014 at 12:59 pm

This week the White House confirmed that President Obama will sign an executive order that prohibits the discrimination of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) employees in federal contracting.

This is historic news for the millions of workers who are employed by federal contractors. Federal contractors employ more than 20 percent of the American workforce and collect over $500 billion in federal contracts every year. The executive order will prohibit these companies from discriminating in employment based on sexual orientation and gender identity, helping to ensure that individuals who work for federal contractors are not denied a job, harassed, or fired simply because of who they are or whom they love.

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Unaffordable Health Care By Any Other Name

Posted by Dania Palanker, Senior Counsel | Posted on: June 19, 2014 at 12:14 pm

Women make up a large majority of the low wage workforce — many without access to affordable health insurance . The Affordable Care Act was supposed to change that. However, for millions of women and their families, something called the “family glitch” puts help with insurance premiums out of reach. But it really isn’t a glitch  because the IRS could have interpreted the law differently.

If you have access to health insurance coverage outside the health insurance marketplace (if you have coverage through your employer or a public insurance program such as Medicaid), then you are not eligible for the health insurance tax credits. But there is a special rule for employment based coverage – if your employer offers coverage that is unaffordable or doesn’t provide enough coverage, then you can say no to your employer coverage and enroll in the marketplace with a health insurance tax credit (if you’re otherwise eligible for the tax credit).

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Baby Steps: Walmart Takes Its First Step to Accommodate Pregnant Workers

Posted by Elizabeth Johnston, Fellow | Posted on: June 19, 2014 at 10:23 am

Pregnant workers at Walmart got a break earlier this year. After months of worker engagement and activism, and a class action discrimination charge brought by the National Women’s Law Center along with our partners, A Better Balance and Mehri & Skalet, the country’s largest employer of women announced a policy shift that represented a big step forward in ensuring that pregnant women who need them will receive basic accommodations. Previously, Walmart’s policy had explicitly stated that pregnancy was a condition eligible only for minor job adjustments and that a pregnant worker was ineligible for the same reassignments and transfers of nonessential job duties offered to workers with disabilities. As a result, as we heard from many Walmart associates, pregnant workers with medical needs for accommodation were routinely denied them, even as Walmart provided these accommodations for workers with medical needs stemming from non-pregnancy-related disabilities and on the job injuries, in violation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). For many women at Walmart, having a baby meant losing a paycheck, or even a job. This is what happened to our client, “Melissa,” who Walmart pushed onto unpaid leave early in her third trimester when her doctor told her to stay off ladders and avoid lifting more than 25-pounds.

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Not a Game: Women and Families Hit Hard by Long-Term Unemployment

Posted by Emily Wales, Fellow | Posted on: June 18, 2014 at 02:54 pm

Word association game. I’ll go. I say, “9 months.” You say…?


School year.

Average period of unemployment.

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Reproductive Health Care: Good for Women, Good for Families

Posted by Chloé White, Intern | Posted on: June 18, 2014 at 09:49 am

Next week, advocates from across the country will meet at the White House to discuss issues that are important to working families. On the Center’s list of issues is access to safe and affordable reproductive health services. Reproductive health services are definitely important for a family’s physical health and well-being, since being able to plan and space pregnancies is good for the health of mothers and children, but reproductive health is also crucial for working families’ economic health and security.

When women can control their reproductive decision-making, their educational and professional opportunities and even their lifetime earnings can increase. One study found that women with access to contraception were more likely to be in college and had higher earnings long into their careers, while another [PDF] pointed to contraception as a reason for the narrowing of the wage gap. With access to safe reproductive health care, women are better able to achieve educational and professional goals and support their families and themselves, both emotionally and financially.

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Will New Jersey Seize the Opportunity to Tackle Pay Discrimination?

Posted by Emily Werth, Fellow | Posted on: June 18, 2014 at 09:33 am

This summer could represent a big moment in the fight to close the wage gap in New Jersey. Two bills aimed at addressing pay discrimination recently cleared both of the houses of the state’s legislature — the Unfair Wage Recovery Act and the Wage Transparency Act. But Governor Christie has previously vetoed both these key pieces of legislation, and so the question is  will he stand in the way of progress toward equal pay yet again?

The Unfair Wage Recovery Act is modeled on the federal Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act  a landmark law adopted five years ago that kept the doors of the federal courthouse open for workers who experience pay discrimination. This bill would provide that the time period for a person to bring a pay discrimination suit under New Jersey state law re-starts each time that the person receives a paycheck that reflects discrimination. This would ensure that victims of discrimination won’t be denied a remedy just because they weren’t aware of discrimination until years later, and that employers will have the right incentives to promptly root out and eliminate any unfair pay disparities.

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Debunking the Myth: Minimum Wage Workers May Not Be Who You Think

Posted by Therese Salazar, Intern | Posted on: June 17, 2014 at 01:34 pm

I am here to make a confession: I’ve been leading you astray. I didn’t mean to, it was totally unintentional, and we (probably) haven’t even met. Still, my bad.

If you think of the average low-wage worker, you probably think of me. Young, working part-time to help pay for school and gas, plans to change jobs soon. Many people think low-wage jobs are held by teens and young adults who hope to earn a bit of extra pocket money on nights and weekends. And since the age of 15, that has been me. I have worked part-time for that very pocket money in order to subsidize my incredible coffee addiction, buy the newest pair of shoes, and pay for movies and entertainment.

However, the reality of the situation is that minimum wage jobs in America are disproportionally held by adults. Most work full-time. And many have children and families to support.

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